Restorative Dentistry (Fillings):
Tooth decay occurs when plaque, a mixture of different types of bacteria found in the mouth, starts to dissolve the outer layers of the teeth, causing them to rot. Often, but not always, an area of tooth decay weakens and collapses in on itself resulting in a cavity. Both tooth decay and cavities can cause sensitivity and pain. If left alone they will almost always become worse, and will need more invasive treatments such as root canal treatments or even extractions.
Fillings are done to remove the decayed areas of the tooth and to repair the cavities, returning the tooth to its original shape and function using filling materials. Your dentist will cut through the tooth to remove any decay and shape the hole in your tooth to accept the filling material. Depending on the type of filling material, the inside surface of the tooth may need to be treated with a gel to allow the filling to stick to the tooth. The filling material is then packed into the hole and allowed to harden. This is often sped up by applying a bright light. After the filling becomes hard, the dentist will polish the tooth to ensure the filling is the correct shape and size.
We use several different materials for our fillings. The most popular are the tooth-coloured composite resin fillings. These have good strength and match the natural colour of your teeth very closely. They can be expected to last for around 5 years in ideal conditions. Amalgam silver-coloured fillings are also sometimes used, particularly for back teeth as they are stronger than composites. These can last up to 15 years or more in ideal conditions. Glass ionomer cements are also tooth coloured but tend not to match colour as accurately as composites. These are usually used to fill baby teeth, teeth that are difficult to repair and teeth that already have other fillings in them, because they are extremely easy to place.